The City Council approved legislation Monday that will give developers fewer reasons to create large parking structures below streets already choked with traffic, providing a new avenue for the ongoing march toward affordability in Seattle.
“It’s unfair for us to have a city where parking is abundant and free and housing is scarce and expensive,” council member and lead on the parking reform bill Rob Johnson said prior to Monday’s 7-1 vote.
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27% of renters do not own cars, City Hall says.
The bill passed Monday allows for “flexible use parking” so that existing and new parking spaces can be shared and used by more people and eliminates parking requirements for affordable housing units (up to 80% Area Median Income). It also requires the “unbundling of parking in leases” for new development so renters “will not be required to pay for parking spaces they do not use,” a council announcement of the approved legislation read.
The legislation also addresses weaknesses in how “frequent transit service” was defined in an parking requirement rules previously passed in Seattle that reduced or eliminated parking requirements for projects in commercial and multifamily zones near transit lines.
It includes a slew of new bike parking requirements. You can dig through many of the legislation’s details here on this post from The Urbanist. The full bill text is embedded below.
The lone vote against the legislation Monday came from West Seattle’s rep Lisa Herbold who had pushed for an amendment that would have given the city the ability to require mitigation including including restricting Restricted Parking Zone permits in urban villages with frequent transit service in areas of Seattle where on-street parking exceeded 85%. Even with Herbold’s decision to back off of restricting RPZs “on advice of the legal department,” the proposed amendment was roundly rejected by the full council Monday. Council member Mike O’Brien said he appreciated Herbold’s concerns for car owners in these densely populated areas but said he refused to support support policies that discriminate against renters.
With more than 5 million parking paces in the city, Seattle will still have plenty of work to do to counter climate change and unclog its frequent traffic snarls. Even the coming development at Capitol Hill Station will be built with more than 200 parking spaces. But as around 70 people move here every day, council member Johnson said, with the new legislation, we’ll no longer be trying to also make space for 70 more cars.